Open Culture at Open Belgium
Last month Open Knowledge Belgium organised the Open Belgium event in Antwerp – a one-day community-driven conference with talks, workshops and discussions around the state of openness in Belgium and abroad. One of the sessions was ‘Open Culture – How Wiki loves art and data’, which featured three talks around opening up cultural content.
In the first talk, Romaine of Wikimedia Belgium presented the Wiki Loves Art project, which they are starting up for Belgium. To boost Wikipedia content on Belgian art, and to raise awareness of the current underrepresentation of Belgian art and knowledge on the internet, they invite photographers and volunteers from Wikipedia to visit Belgian cultural institutions and take photos of collection pieces, which are then published online under an open license. This is not a replacement for digitisation efforts of museums, but a quick first step to get images online and boost searchable information on the artworks and collections. This summer there will be a contest to select the best images. Wiki Loves Art has been taking place in other countries as well.
Following on that, Alina Saenko and Barbara Dierickx (PACKED) talked about how they started working together with Flemish museums to publish the metadata of their art collections on Wikidata (with a CC0 license), and then make this dataset available as Linked Open Data (LOD). All artworks are for example given a persistent identifier, which allows for enrichment because the works can then be linked to other available data, providing more contextual information. Over 25.000 records of Flemish artworks have now been added.
Some great examples were shown of the new overviews that can then be produced, such as the lifecycle of an artwork, the history of ownership of artwork or the acquisition sources for a museum. In addition, Wikidata feeds into Wikipedia, which greatly increases the public outreach. In this whitepaper PACKED summarises how data managers in museums may publish collection data on Wikidata, and what benefits this can bring. More information on the project is available here.
The final talk focused on OpenGLAM: after a short overview of the initiative, we went into the two new resources have been developed last year: the Open Collections, a resource bringing together collections from around the world that provide digital scans or photos that can be freely used without any restrictions and the Open Content Exchange Platform, an online, publicly accessible platform developed within the Europeana Space project to connect people to documentation on open licensing for both suppliers and users of open content. Then there was a brief overview of the ongoing work on the OpenGLAM benchmark survey results (the complete presentation on this was given a week earlier by Beat Estermann at the Vernetzte Welten conference in Austria – see full slides here), and more information about the local groups and their activities. Perhaps some day a new OpenGLAM local group for Belgium can be started up, as the open data community in Belgium seems quite active!
There were many other sessions at the Open Belgium event, on topics ranging from open science to open cities and data journalism: presentations of the other sessions are now available from http://2016.openbelgium.be/presentations.